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How to choose between Direct Drive, Belt Drive or Gear Driven Pumps?

How to choose between Direct Drive, Belt Drive or Gear Driven Pumps?

When it comes to pressure washers, a good thing to know is that the power of the engine is what functions the pump and this either happens “directly” or “indirectly”. In this post we will explain the main differences between direct and indirect plus some of the benefits and limitations of each method.

Direct Drive - This is the most common type of pressure washer setup due to its straight forward and compact design, overall cost to manufacture and the fact that this method is commonly used with your smaller output pressure washers that are more readily available at your big box stores which make them more accessible to homeowners and weekend warriors.

 Direct Drive

With direct drive pumps, the engine and pump are “directly connected” through a hollow shaft which will spin at the same RPM as the engine and in turn will make the pump run at very high speeds compared to a belt or gear driven machine. This all cause excess heat and wear and tear to the direct drive which will also cause pre mature wear to components and since the engine and pump are directly connected, if the engine or pump ever freeze during the winter months or the engine is compromised it can easily lead to pump and or engine damage. 

Another downfall to direct drive set ups is the inability to draw water from a tank. The system needs constant “positive pressure” at least or greater to the GPM (gallons per minute) output of the pump. If enough water is not supplied there is a high risk of cavitating your pump which as we have learned can also lead to engine damage.

We would say that a direct drive pressure washer is your best bet if you are looking to keep the cost of your investment down, you are not using the machine more than a few hours a week and you are not cleaning huge areas. For the odd cleanup around your shop, a driveway or cleaning up your homes exterior every couple years we believe this is a great way to go.

Belt Driven - This setup has an “indirect” or “external” connection from the engine to the pump via belts and a pulley system which will slow down the RPM on the pump by dispersing the speed of the shaft throughout the pulley system by around 50% which will in turn give you the same operating power but with half the wear and tear on your pump. Belt Drive is typically used for larger GPM pressure washers and people or companies that will be doing larger jobs with use of anywhere from 5-12 hours per day. The initial investment is larger but the capability and longevity of the pressure washer will pay off in the long run.

Belt Drive

One noticeable negative to belt driven pumps is that the belts can become misaligned from the pump which will cause uneven wear on the belts and eventually lead to them snapping or breaking. After replacement you will have to ensure they are re-aligned properly and if you are not experienced in doing this it can become an extra cost for hiring a mechanic or the downtime as you learn and train your staff to do this work. Belt driven pressure washers are able to create a vacuum at the inlet of the pump which means it can draw directly from a tank without the need for constant positive pressure.  

 

Gear Driven - This setup also has an “indirect” or “external” connection from the engine to the pump via interlocking gears which are much stronger and less prone to breaking than the belts that would come on a belt driven pump. Another benefit of gear driven pumps is the fact that you will never need to re-align you pump or pulley system again like you would have to often with belt drives.

Gear DrivenGear Drive Water Dragon

Much like belt driven machines if you have too much back pressure on your pump you run the risk of damaging the interlocking gears. This is why all of our Water Dragon Pressure Washers  already come installed with safety check valves that will not allow the pump to over pressure. Honestly, most other manufacturers will not include these check valves and without them the interlocking gears could become damaged in a situation where someone uses an improperly rated tip or nozzle and causes extreme back pressure. The cost of replacement for a gear drive greatly out weighs the cost of a belt or direct drive system. Gear driven pressure washers can also create a vacuum at the inlet of the pump which means it can draw directly from a tank without the need for constant positive pressure.  

If you are located in Canada then give Big Shot Supplies a call at 604-533-3353 and we can help you pick out the type of pressure washer that will fit your budget and suit your needs. 

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